Air Force Special Film Project 416,"Power of Decision"
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Producer U.S. Air Force. Air Photographic and Charting ServiceAudio/Visual sound, colorContact Information William Burr, National Security Archive - 202/994-7000
For more information see the complete posting at the National Security Archive's Nuclear Vault - http://www.nsarchive.org/nukevault/ebb336
The following description of the film is from the U.S. Air Force Motion Picture Film Depository index card:
6 Reels, 35mm, color, sound, edited, 5600 feet, quality: Good (Basic: Orig color)
Coverage of simulated war plan action, in the event of an attack, which was executed at the Operation Control Roomm, Offutt AFB, Nebraska, and at the underground control room (location SECRET), by Strategic Air Command. Footage includes pilots and ground crewmen scrambling; pilots boarding aircraft; B-47's, B-52's, and B-58's taxiing, taking off, maneuvering, and landing; and a KC-135 refueling a B-52. Also included are scenes of the launching of the Bull Goose, Rascal, Snark, and Thor missiles.
Paul T Horgan
November 18, 2013
This film is clearly about the use of SAC resources to retaliate for a Soviet strike on the West.
What I find strange about it is that there is no mention made of SAC in the film. Instead there is reference to LRAA, which is actually a Soviet term.
Further, the officers' names are fictional. The roles are in fact being played by actors. This is a dramatisation, not a documentary.
Also the alert is sent out in the incorrect way. A subsequent documentary, also available here, called "SAC Command Post" shows that alerts require multiple officers to be present.
Another curious feature of this film is that it shows weapons that did not make it into inventory, namely Bull Goose and Rascal. The Thor rocket is a prototype as it has the wrong nose-cone for a warhead and it does look like the same launch from different angles. Production Thors were deployed in the UK because they lacked the range otherwise. As well as this it is quite clear that the B-58 is a test plane and not a combat production version as the colour scheme is wrong. There is no mention of the B-36, which left service in 1959. This film was clearly produced years before this date.
So who was the intended audience? With so many features that are apparently incorrect, was it designed to reassure congressmen. Or was it designed to be leaked to the Soviets to show them what would happen? There does not look like there is anything there to justify the film being too closely guarded. The scenario shown depicts major damage to the USA, but the USSR is obliterated to the point where there is no method for the Kremlin to officially surrender.
Apparently this was to only government film to discuss war with the USSR. It is more upbeat than the British 'Hole in the Ground', but not if you are a Russian.
This is a matter-of-fact film with no ideology or rhetoric. So it is interesting as an objective examination of the early Cold War. Its accuracy, however, may be open to debate.
June 14, 2011
This is easily the scariest movie I've ever seen. All those so-called "horror" movies fade in comparison.
It is hard to believe how close the Cold War got to getting really, really, Hot.